Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Letter to My Mom

Mother's Day 2009
Dear Mom,

This Mother’s Day, my thoughts are of how these past 3 years, starting from the beginning of my pregnancy to the girls 2nd birthday, have shaped me into a different person – a mom. And how the experience has strengthened my love for you, if that’s possible. I remember only wanting to call you and no one else, the day I found out there were 2 babies in there. I remember that I didn’t want to hang up the phone and turn off your reassuring voice. So many moments in these past 3 years are so vivid, and most of them involve you – our many phone conversations during my pregnancy; wishing you were there to see their birth, and to witness my strength (Look mom! I gave birth to twins!); feeling my heart rip out of my chest watching you say goodbye to your tiny preemie granddaughters; watching you, amazed, dancing for them in your nightgown; giggling as we tried to feed them bananas; laughing hysterically at your antics with your camera; and just feeling a sense that everything would be ok because you were there with me to help me with my struggle to feel confident that I could do this – I could mother twins.

I love telling you stories about our days – you understand me better than anyone. I love hearing the eagerness in your voice to hear tidbits about Jaeda & Tristyn – anything at all, and how you soak in every detail.

I have discovered that even though I’m an adult, and a mother myself, I still have those “I want my mommy” moments: The afternoon you swept in and saved me from a wailing Tristyn, or the late night when you took Jaeda from my arms and walked out the front door to calm her down.

It’s funny to think that that’s the only way I’ve ever known you – as my mom - but you get to witness the transition in me. I guess that’s one of the many privileges of being someone’s mother.

I love you. Thank you for being my #1 support.

Amber Lena

Saturday, November 21, 2009


A close friend of mine just found she is pregnant. With one. Not two.

My heart sank, because this may be her only chance for a viable pregnancy, and for me, because I wanted so badly to share my experience with her. We have been friends for a long time, and our paths paralleled since the carefree days in high school French class. We both married, but waited to have children, instead focusing on travel and career. I gauged my own timeline by hers, checking in occasionally to see if we were still on course.

I have a curious "gift" - among my friends, I know when they are pregnant before they tell me (and sometimes before they know). It's usually in the form of a dream, but sometimes it's just a feeling. With one of my friends, I literally woke up knowing the morning after the baby was conceived.

But with fertility treatments, my baby radar goes haywire. I knew when implantation occurred - because my friend told me. I waited for the dream to confirm it was successful, but it never came. I would wake up before it was time, make note that I hadn't dreamt anything specific about her, and go back to sleep hoping the next time I awoke I would know. Day after day, as I waited for her text message, I began to wonder if the procedure was fruitless. Finally, the call came - she was pregnant! I stomped my feet and tried to squeal with delight quietly in my small office.

Then, we were left to ponder - one baby, twins or maybe even triplets?! As tormenting as it was for me to wait, it must have been that much more so for her and her husband. I can only imagine the conversations that they must have had - hoping, wondering, second guessing. This is part of the fertility experience that is both thrilling and heart wrenching at the same time.

In the end (or the beginning as it were), there were two yolk sacs indicating the inception of twins, but only one with a heartbeat.

It's an internal struggle for me. I find myself caught between my selfish desire to be her mentor, my belief that she and her husband _deserve_ children, and my newly held stance that infants were meant to come one at a time.

Ultimately, I'm beyond thrilled that she will soon experience the joy of motherhood. The fact that I raised infants in duplicate only better prepares me to support her as she navigates down that road.

Sometimes I need to remind myself that we are all on different paths - the one we are meant to travel.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Citizen of the World

That's how I feel after becoming a mother. Prior to mommy hood, it felt like I was floundering around unattached to anyone or anything; that I could disappear and the memory of me would simply fade away. Now, I somehow feel more attached - tied down, if you will - with the negative connotations that that expression brings, as well as the warm comfortability that comes with knowing you are needed, and that other lives depend on you. It's not the same as being a daughter - my parents have long since entrusted me to my own independence in this world, and there is, of course, less reliance of them on me than there is with my own daughters. Perhaps that is why empty nest syndrome is so traumatic to so many parents. When the children fly the coop, that feeling of connectedness is not as concrete, and they are left to wonder if their children still need them.

Before I had kids, I didn't really get kids. Sure, I love my nieces and nephew and find my friends' babies adorable, but I wasn't drawn to them like I am now. All the children-are-our-future sayings we hear from parents were lost on me. Not so much from an intellectual standpoint, but from an emotional one.

Children are everywhere, with similar features that propel me to smile or say hello. I could be halfway around the world and still see my daughters' characteristics, even if not physical - a giggle, squeal or a tiny footprint.

It's all encompassing. I feel this connectedness wherever I am, whether I have my girls with me or not, like a warm blanket. The reminders are everywhere. The obvious ones of course; the pictures on my desk and computer, their voices in the background when I am talking to my husband on the phone, an empty gum wrapper in my purse. And there are the inquiries from clients and friends - as if they are an extension of me. No other possession in life is revered by so many.

Even when I'm out on my own in my car, there are the behemoth car seats that clutter the entire back seat, yet look eerily empty at the same time. The ads or songs on the radio that inevitably make me think of them.

But mostly, it is the fervent pull towards home - towards wherever my daughters are.

I'm forever altered.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I can't complain

I really can't complain. I delivered two babies without surgery and less than 15 hours of labor. The fear I've had my whole life of child birth was finally over, and I had two daughters.

I've wanted a c-section ever since I can remember. When I was told I was expecting twins, I lobbied for a c-section - begged even. My reasons were simple: I had two babies to deliver in one sitting and I was scared. Twin c-sections are extremely common due to incorrect fetal position and a myriad of other concerns that go along with multiple pregnancies. Much to my chagrin, when I met with the OB that partnered with my nurse midwife group to discuss birth options, she told me she also had twins - twins which she delivered vaginally...and assured me I could do the same. I left the appointment feeling angry - wasn't this my choice? Hadn't I been told throughout my pregnancy that I was high risk? (A label I fought tooth and nail before acquiescing)

After meeting with the OB and talking to friends about delivering vaginally vs. c-section, I decided a vaginal birth may be advantageous because I would no longer feel restricted in my movement, as I had felt so much as my pregnancy progressed. I was ready to have my body back and knew a c-section would involve a recovery time that I simply didn't have the patience for. However, births are complicated, whether its one or multiple babies and I knew I wouldn't have much choice anyway. So, I decided to accept my unknown fate for whichever would be the one I was meant to experience.

Doing a complete 180 from my previous thinking, when I arrived at the hospital in labor, I could have cared less about a c-section versus vaginal birth. My nurse midwife group convinced me to try to labor naturally and see how things progressed. Not until I spent almost an hour pushing out Baby A and lie there waiting for contractions to begin with Baby B did the fear hit me.

The one thing I did NOT want was to labor and deliver Baby A the conventional way, only to turn around and be cut open to deliver Baby B.

I could see the anesthesiologist in my peripheral vision hovering around me, waiting, waiting. As the minutes passed and the room grew tense, I craned my neck to see him and say "don't even think about it". Poor Baby B simply wasn't ready. Through 15 hours of labor and the stress of her womb mate being delivered, her water was still intact. (Oddly, she does this still - she'll linger in the bath long after her sister has evacuated).

See, Baby B has so much more room (womb - ha!) after his or her twin leaves that they sometimes turn. (shudder) She did. When I heard my midwife murmur something about a foot, I pushed with everything I had. She arrived 46 minutes after her sister, and was swept away to the NICU to join her twin.

I dodged the proverbial c-section bullet and was famous for a day amongst the nurses on the birthing floor.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Bestow My Beating Heart

Today at a birthday party I was asked if I had any advice for a friend that was pregnant with twins. First I joked that I would give her my blog address but that might scare her. Then, I bumbled about connecting with other twin moms (blogs included, but perhaps not mine), keeping the babies on a schedule, hiring a baby doula (if she could afford one) and renting a hospital grade pump instead of buying one.

I could have kicked myself after I got home. What is the ONE thing that I have learned these past three years? The inspiration, if you will, for this blog? The fear that resides permanently inside my head lest it return? The affliction that held me hostage from enjoying my beautiful daughters for so long? The triumph over which I feel such emotion every_single_day? The one thing in my life that I couldn't fix myself? The compassion I feel for others that have suffered much longer than I have, and continue to suffer? The experience in my life that has made me who I am today? That reminds me how far I'm come, and how strong I really am?

My first, and perhaps only response should have been to keep in touch with your doctor, know the signs of post-partum depression and God Dammit! not be afraid to ask for help. I should have relayed my ridiculous knack of concealing my depression from my husband, my mother and my best friend. My ability to justify my struggles each and every day with another ailment or worry. The utter depths that one can reach while still appearing normal to the outside world.

Then again, the other pieces of advice are much more tangible. And that's what people want, right? Each person has a journey to live, struggles to endure, and reasons for both. We can't always deflect other's troubles simply by bestowing warning. Life simply doesn't work that way.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

"I will always be your mama"

I uttered these words to my youngest daughter (by 46 minutes) today as I wrestled with her and her sister on the kitchen floor. They elbowed each other to be the one closest to me and I heard Tristyn say to her sister "No! MY mama", in that typical toddler competitive tone. I hugged her and reassured her, "I will always be your mama" and it hit me - the title of mama/mom/mother is so very permanent. More so than any other relationship in our lives. Husbands and wives divorce, BFF's grow apart, friends and co-workers lose touch.

But your mother is always your mother. Even if she's no longer alive, or you were adopted, or raised by grandparents or another family member. The woman who gave birth to you always has a certain infallable influence in one's life.

For some reason, this didn't occur to me until that moment, even though I've always been my mother's daughter. Perhaps it is the nature of the relationship that bombarded me with such force. That I'm shaping young lives just by virtue of being myself - a dynamic that isn't as magnified in any other area of our lives.

*sigh* I hope I don't screw this up.
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